Address : 16 Park Street, Kolkata—700017.
Tenure : 1year, 3months
Professional Practice (PP) Trainee—3rd Year of GNIIT Curriculum.
I joined the Service Industry as a Trainee from NIIT.
I went for the Interview and to my surprise I was interviewed by a very pretty looking young Lady Mrs. Malaya Das. She was so young and good looking ! She was the Human Resources Manager at The Park. She had a huge cabin all to herself and she asked me very simple questions about myself. I had gone with another girl Gitika. Both of us got through the 1st round of Interview.
The Second round of Interview was with Mr. Vijay Dewaan. He looked like a lion (later I came to know that he is called Shah Rukh of The Park). Very fair and light brown hair & light brown eyes. When I said that I was from NIIT he said “ so ?! what brings you here – you belong to the IT Industry and this one is Service Industry” – I said I was here as a trainee. To this he had smiled and said – “what does NIIT think of itself – we are Trainers to their students or what?” – well I had also smiled at that.
The very same day as I reached home , I got a call from Mrs. Ratna Ghosh, my mentor at NIIT and she congratulated me on getting selected for the job.
Initially I had been interviewed by American Bank – but had got deselected because I did not know even the ABC of banking ! When I was asked whether I would like to count cash or attend the Customer queries.. I had opted for Count cash – to which I was asked whether I have ever handled cash summing up to the amount of Rs.2-4 lakhs at a time..well I had given a deep sigh and had replied “Never” !I am anyways very poor regarding Finance—maybe the Interviewer had understood that I have zero or no knowledge about Finance.
As far as attending Customer queries were concerned – I never thought that I could handle their queries as I was very poor in Maths – if they had queried me about Simple Interest or Compound Interest – I would not have been able to answer that ! (anyways little did I know at that point of time that every detail (FAQ) is given beforehand to the Executive to mug up and hardly someone will ask anything beyond what is given in the list of FAQs !)
I got interviewed in another office as well – I do not remember which one – it was the job of maintaining the system network and writing C language code. Oh! Well I was not at all confident about programming – just had mugged up the program code in order to pass in NIIT! – Program code requires a lot of logic, looping , stacking, arrays etc…..I never understood anything – I was good at flow charting though and declaring classes & objects…but then that’s all – not much further than this ! So I never ventured in this field at all .
I was given 2 options
Option one was to be Temporary Executive Secretary to the Vice President Mr. Vijay Deewan or Business Centre Executive.
Me and Geetika were made to sit with Mrs. Priya Rath who was the actual Secretary to Mr Dewaan but was going on Maternity Leave for 3 months. One of us had to be the officiating secretary to Mr. Deewan. Now the Executive Office was very quiet and cold and had a ruthless – cut throat kind of an ambience. Obviously with the Vice President loitering around one could not indulge in any sort of fun but rather had to maintain absolute silence all the time.
The next day I went upstairs at the Business Centre – there the life was cool – pretty – pretty cool. Marium was my comrade there and all we had to do is :
- Make photocopies for Inhouse and outhouse customers
- Distribute function sheet to various Departments
- Fax for Customers and colleagues
- Prepare Mailers
- Make reports for the F & B (Food & Beverage ) Department
- Order coffee with biscuits occasionally
- Order fresh Lime soda sweet occasionally
- Gossip about the latest hot news/ affairs/ lochas/ kissas
- More Gossip
- Followed by laughter
- Meeting all the people from various departments – as they had to come to the Business centre for Xerox purposes – thus having
- increased gossip material .
- Invite guests like Banquet Executives etc. for some more gossip
- To sum it all – It was COOL & full of fun !
Now folks I was already 26 – I joined in Dec 1996 – and Gitika was much younger to me some 21 or 22 – so the obvious choice to become Mr. Dewaan’s Secretary was ..well – Me !! Since they thought that I was older and much responsible. Well folks this was not acceptable to me. So I started to Act. I started to falter – I behaved in a clumsy manner – not much – otherwise I would have lost my job totally – but then I hit upon a major plan – I started spreading the news that I am afraid of Mr. Dewaan – I tremble at his mere presence – so how will I handle his calls etc.
One day some Mr. Gadhiok called up from Delhi – and I passed on the line as “some Gadhiok from Delhi on line Sir” – Priya Rath got a call immediately after the call got over – he asked her to teach me to say “Mr. Gadhiok – Mister – does she understand ?” – hmmm… my plan was working – I did not have to work much for it to work actually – it came naturally to me..maybe I was actually scared of that stifling & suffocating environment !
I introduced Mail Merge at The Park
Well one good thing that happened at The Park was that I became a veteran in MS- Word & Excel. NIIT had just covered 2 -3 classes on this as they were focusing more on Programming and RDBMS kind of stuff so the fact that around 1 million things can be done in WORD & EXCEL was not really known to me!
One day I opened one of the lower racks of Marium’s drawer and some 200-300 invitation cards fell on my feet ! They were beautiful invitation cards but I saw the dates were very old like last year’s Christmas Celebration Party or some Strawberry Event etc. I asked Marium what on earth were they doing in the rack and why on earth did she not send it to the customers / clients as we had over 400 address database – all on paper though.
To this she replied that – everything happens at the last moment here ! lets say the event is scheduled on 25th of Feb and I get the cards on 22nd of Feb – so how am I going to type over 400 addresses in just 2 days and get it couriered ? and moreover I was alone here and single handedly was Xeroxing, typing , faxing – sending and receiving etc. so how could I manage ?
To this I said if ever Mr Bose (F & B Manager ) comes to know of it – hell might break lose – to which she said – Oh ! he will never come to know – such things no one can ever come to know – I just tell them I have released the cards – that’s all !
Well – well I said – but that was not the right thing to do I thought – then an event did come up and I saw her slowly typing and she could manage to type only 50 – 60 addresses – out of 300 printed cards on the sticker labels bought from Oxford Bookstore. Rest were added to the pile of wasted cards !! Well I must say folks – I felt very guilty at this – this was sheer wastage ! We belong to middle class families – we really cannot stand to see wastage! I had heard remotely about mail Merge once inNIIT – they had said that its very easy – you just got to have a database and that’s all – in a jiffy – labels and envelops will be ready.
I started hunting – not much of a problem that was (thanx to Bill Gates and his Company – they have really pampered us brats) – pressed F1 – typed Mail Merge –Read it – understood it immediately – after all I belonged to Programming background folks remember (from India’s number ONE IT Training Institute – where if you do not go – you miss something – that something was ME I think now (wink!)?)
I implemented it – It was successful – it was a sensation at The Park at that point of time (1997 that was) – people came from different departments to marvel at the “Implemented successfully Scientific Technology” – I even took a training session on MS-Word & Excel – and the first thing that I handed over to them was a sheet of short cuts – that I had copied from HELP of course – and how to handle commands from keyboard in case your mouse is acting pricey etc. I was called the Computer Wiz-kid at The Park !
I ‘put on’ Weight at The Park !!
Well often I had heard my brother telling about his office canteen where special dishes were prepared for them and they never had to carry any lunch – I used to think whether God will send my way any such office where I’ll have hot lunch served ….Well God does listen to easy prayers I think – because at The Park we had sumptuous meals – Hot buttery naans, chicken, fish , cheese + capsicum vegetable etc. and sometimes the Chief Chef used to give us surprise Sweet dish as well – in fact he used to visit the EDR (Employee Dining Room) only when he had this special sweet dish – so whenever I saw him around – my hopes raised higher as I thought that Sweet Dish is confirmed !
I was very pally with all Department Heads as I used to distribute the Function Chart around. So they all knew me very well….so I often took the liberty of joking with them and they did not even mind it.
While at Banglore with my brother – I had become a complete vegetarian – since I used to somehow cook and obviously we cannot eat raw and uncooked meat – so I never ventured into non-veg cooking ! Because of this I had reduced immensely – my waist line had become 26” – and I had become pretty slim ! I was maintaining it fine as in NIIT ect. I used to wear skirts and jeans and carry it of pretty well – not looking bloated, oversized ie. But after having buttery naans at The Park , I rapidly started putting on weight and since I used to wear a Uniform (saree at office) I never came to know that I was putting on weight at a rapid rate – as you see – tight dresses are the best entities to tell you whether you are maintaining weight or not. Since my life was from Home to office and office to home – I used to change into my nighty and western dresses were more or less out of sight – when suddenly I tried on my jeans and saw to my surprise that I was unable to get into them !! Gosh ! that was nightmarish I tell you. Anyways then I started checking my diet but then harm was already done – my buttocks had spread like nobody’s business !
Man I was elated !
One day The Purchase Department head just called out my name and said : Rakhi hey Rakhi ! I just looked at him and said what he means by that when he said that the other night he was watching this movie “Sharmilee” where Rakhee was reminding him totally of me and that he had told his wife that there is a girl in our office who resembles actress Rakhi Gulzar !
Gosh ! I fell from the sky ! Rakhi in “Sharmilee” was a rage during her times – so utterly beautiful she was – I went home wondering whether he is blind or what – but there were others who agreed with him ! I actually sat in front of the mirror and wondered how come I have started looking like Rahki when people used to call me Zeenat Aman / Parveen Babi during my adolescence ! My hair is straight and silky – and my face was thin and elongated – because of which people used to call me Zeenat. When I used to make 2 plaits – I was called Rekha by many (of Khoobsurat – the polished Rekha please) – I had started using eye-liner in college and one of the seniors had remarked that I look like Saira Banu ! At NIIT people had remarked that I look like Shabana Azmi / Asha Parekh …gosh ! I sometimes wonder what exactly is my face made of – so flexible I must say ! Very conveniently I looked like the most sought after actress of the era !!
Presents and gifts are for ‘easily available girls’ :
There was a girl – I will not write any names as I do not wish to insult anyone directly !
She had joined as a Telephone Operator (as told to me by Sherry – Executive Secretary to H.R Manager) – mediocre …rather cheap looking girl. During her Induction – when a newly joined is taken around all the Departments for understanding the work process and ‘who sits where’- she happened to exchange lust-vibe glances with a married Head of a certain Department – so after a few months she was upgraded from Telephones to the Other Dept.
One day on her birthday – a huge bouquet of flowers was kept along with a big packet of gift of containing Braun (a hair removing machine) and all the other laughed out loudly – what was so funny about it I failed to understand – as it should have been taken as an insult …you see the point is at The Park – during basic grooming requirements – it is told categorically to girls to have their visible/ exposed parts well waxed – ie. Both arms should be waxed as that is the only exposed part – since the blouses were of ¾ sleeves and Air Hostess cut – ie. Totally covered…so what does such a gift suggest ? – that the other person has access to the other parts of your body as well! And it was very evident who had given her the gift – since only Bosses earn so much amount as to present something worth 1500/- to a Junior colleague !!
We also used to celebrate Birthdays – like we used to collect Rs. 50/- each and then give a joint gift to the person and then a cake was made for him / her and birthday was celebrated. The F & B Department used to celebrate it more cheaply – they used to break eggs on the head !
My Birthday was missed by my department as it was closed for 4 days for Durga Pujas – and after 4 days no one remembers your birthday….anyways they all did give me a parting gift ( a salwar kameez).
I had this rather uncanny experience with cakes & other celebrations :
Maybe God knows that I have a special affinity towards cakes, pastries and other sweet meats – so whenever there was some celebration going on in any department – somehow or the other I used to reach there on time and the department members used to think that I have some contract with the Internal waiter who used to inform me ‘who is eating what and where’ !!
Basically one more addition meant lesser share for Team members ! Most of the department members used to welcome me except the Accounts Department …well they had the reason not to be very pleased by my presence as you see the H.R Dept. and the Accounts Dept . was on the same huge hall – separated by cubicles – so when very cautiously and stealthily they used to get the cake etc. to their space ( they had to pass the HR Region – my space ie)- I somehow used to reach there with some work (honestly not the smell) with the credit department or something – and lo behold – the huge cake was there about to be cut – they used to make silent gestures at me not to call anyone else from my department – just have a piece and get going kind of suggestion – but I was wicked …I used to scream – Gosh ! Wow – CAKE !! and the rest of my Department people used to join in almost instantly !!